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Ashtanga Yoga is a dynamic and physically demanding style that follows a set sequence of postures. The word 'Ashtanga' translates to 'eight limbs', referring to the eightfold path mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. K. Pattabhi Jois popularised this style of Yoga.
Ashtanga Yoga meaning relates to the involvement of a particular practice that combines breath, movement, and Drishti (gaze) to create a flowing and intense experience. The approach follows a specific sequence of postures, starting with sun salutations or Surya Namaskaras and moving through a series of standing poses, seated poses, inversions, and backbends. Vinyasas, which match breath with movement, link the transitions between postures.
The primary series of Ashtanga Yoga also known as Yoga Chikitsa (Yoga Therapy), focuses on purifying and aligning the body, detoxifying the internal organs, and building strength and flexibility. The second series, known as Nadi Shodhana (Nerve Cleansing), builds upon the foundation of the primary series and includes more challenging postures to open energy channels further and promote deeper self-awareness.
Ashtanga Yoga is often practised in a heated room to enhance flexibility, remove toxins, and build stamina. The practice can be physically demanding and requires discipline and consistency. However, it develops physical strength, stamina, and mental focus.
In addition, Vinyasa Yoga is also a part of Ashtanga Yoga, which offers a creative and energetic practice that builds strength and cardiovascular strength. The continuity of the practice promotes a sense of grace and mindfulness as practitioners move through a series of poses, known as a 'vinyasa flow'.
How to perform vinyasa yoga? The practice of Vinyasa yoga challenges both the body and mind, encouraging practitioners to stay present and focused on the breath as they move through the flow. Continuous movement and conscious breathing help quiet the mind, promote stress reduction, and enhance overall body awareness. All of these are some of the common Vinyasa Yoga benefits.
Through consistent practice, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga aims to purify the body, calm the mind, and create a meditative state of flow. It encourages self-discipline, self-reflection, and a deeper connection with oneself. The practice of Ashtanga Yoga provides an opportunity for personal growth and transformation, both physically and spiritually.
Ashtanga Yoga perform practice involves following a specific sequence of postures while balancing breath and movement. Here is a guide on how to practice Ashtanga Yoga:
Begin with Sun Salutations: Start with a few rounds of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) to warm the body. Sun Salutations consist of poses that flow with the breath, including forward folds, lunges, and upward-facing dogs.
Move through Standing Poses: Progress to a series of standing poses, such as Warrior poses (Virabhadrasana), Triangle pose (Trikonasana), and Extended Side Angle pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana). Maintain the flow of the practice by linking each pose with a vinyasa (a specific sequence of movements).
Progress to Seated Poses: Transition to seated poses, including forward folds, twists, and hip-opening poses. These may consist of Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Forward Bend), Marichyasana (Seated Twist), and Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose).
Integrate Finishing Poses: Include finishing poses like Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana), Headstand (Sirsasana), and Fish pose (Matsyasana). These poses help cool down the body and prepare for the final relaxation.
Complete with Final Relaxation: Conclude the practice with a period of deep relaxation, typically in the Corpse pose (Savasana). Allow the body and mind to release and absorb the benefits of the practice entirely.
It is important to note that Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga for beginners is traditionally taught in a Mysore style, where students practice the series at their own pace under the guidance of a teacher. The teacher provides individualised adjustments and changes to suit each student's needs.